How To Motivate In A Safe Working Environment Business Essay


The term MOTIVATION is a widely clamoured discussion, and regarded an epitome of Spontaneous effectiveness in an Organization. Its importance as a major drive in thriving business organizations has made it an everyday consideration in day to day activities.

This literature review shall expose us to the development of adopted theory models, their processes and applications. It will expose us to various behaviours of individuals and how to motivate them in reference to a safe working environment. Technically, one should be able to identify what model to adopt at a particular instance and be able to draw up what reactions might evolve from the adoption of the theories.

The Purpose of this study is to compare various Motivational theories, formulation processes, and its applications as to how it affects individual behaviours.

'Motivation can affect not only the acquisition of people's skills and abilities but also how and to what extent they utilize their skills and abilities'. e a. Locke and g p. Latham (2004). 'What should we do about motivation theory? Six recommendations for the twenty-first century' Academy of Management Review, 29, (3), pp.388-403.

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The roles of Managers in improving productivity, quality and efficiency cannot be undermined. Motivation plays a vital role in realizing these afore mentioned objectives which leads to improve performance and organizational standards.

Hence, Researchers have formulated various practicable theories to pave way for posteriors/prosperous and motivational environment.

"In fact, probably no other subject has received more attention in recent journals and textbooks of organizational behaviour". (Katzell and Thompson 1990).

And we often ask ourselves "why would people be motivated to set high goals? People however expect practical outcomes from setting certain goals, regardless of the fact that it is in fact to accomplish task that they were employed.

Now this question must be asked; "What is the relevance of these model theories in Management?" These theories have evaluated individual behaviours and performance in daily activities in relation to employer's satisfaction, and have noticed that at some point in the course of business, employees performance tend to decrease or diminish, various variables are responsible for these. The theories have now proposed ways to improve this performance even greater than it used to leading to improved efficiency and returns.

The early theories of Motivation though alike and simplistic had led to greater discovery as research was carried out mostly on their shortcomings, and from these evolved Content theories from which in turn evolved the major process theories.


Frederick Taylor 1911 generated the traditional model, speculating that workers were to accept management authorities in return for high wages. 'though he didn't intent to be exploitative in his approach. He believed that the increase in productivity is responsible for reward shared. 'However, the subsequent rise of an increasingly sophisticated workforce, coupled with company efforts to maximize productivity without simultaneously increasing employee rewards, eventually served to discredit this system.' (STEERS, MOWDAY and SHAPIRO 2004). In view of this new development, Researchers began to evaluate social influence on workers. Notable among this research works are Elton Mayo (1933). Human Relations Theory, which suggest that if workers are allowed to influence work decisions, it will motivate workers and improve efficiency, failure to do this can lead to poor craftsmanship and low morale. McGregor Douglas (1960) developed Theory X and Y Model. He regarded both Traditional and human relations theory as Theory X "authoritarian management style", (people were persuaded, rewarded and punished, and Theory Y (people apply self control and self direction in pursuit of organizational objectives). (Alan C 2008). Gardner and Moore (1955) observe, "To the average person, some of the most important elements in the job and work situation are the interpersonal relations". (Gardner and Moore 1955).

According to (Halepota) 2005. As X and Y approach is cited in Hobart brothers Company. The company specialized welding materials and equipment, like robotic welding, vision and spray surfacing, Employees at Hobart are considered as family and the Management had confidence in its workers such that even casual staffs. A fire incident occurred in the company's plant and the fire damage was to an extent that the management thought it would be out for several months, but the tremendous efforts by some of the employees who toiled 12 hours a day and seven days a week in the cleaning operations and in installing new equipment brought the organization back to life in Two months. An Extension of this theory is the William Ouchi's (1981) Theory Z (represents a humanistic approach to management exhibiting strong homogenous cultural values, beliefs and objectives while retaining some major elements as Authority, performance evaluation and work specialization) is structured from knowledge gathered from Management Models that had been perfected by Japanese corporations.(Ouchi 1981). According to Omolaiye and Ogunlana (1988), Some construction workers work in gangs, and total output depends on the gang; Hence sharing same cultural values; this have proved efficient, either because they have accumulated confidence of working together overtime with the objective of being responsible for each other.

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Gardner and Moore characterized these Models which are outlined thus:





Work is distasteful to most people.

Few want and can handle work that requires creativity.

People want to feel useful and important.

People want to be recognized as individuals.

Work is not inherently distasteful.

Most people can exercise more creativity, than their present job demands.


Managers should closely supervise and control subordinates.

He or she must establish detailed work routines and procedures.

Manager should make each worker feel useful and important.

Manager should allow subordinates exercise some self direction and control on routine matters.

Managers should make use of underutilized human resources.

Managers should create an environment in which all members may contribute to the limits of their abilities.


People can tolerate work if pay is decent and the boss is fair.

If tasks are simple enough and people are closely controlled, they will produce up to standard.

Sharing information with subordinates and involving them in routine decisions will satisfy their basic needs to belong and feel important.

Satisfying these needs will improve morale and reduce resistance to formal authority.

Expanding subordinate influence, self direction and control.

Work satisfaction may improve as

"by-product" of subordinates make use of their resources.

(Adapted from Stoner A.F, and E. Freeman. R (1992.) Management (5)p. 441 USA Prentice Hall.citing Source: Adapted from Richard M Steers. And Lyman W porter, eds., Motivation and work behaviour, 3rd ed. (New York; McGraw-Hill, 1983), p.14.


By the 1950s, several new models of work motivation had emerged and were collectively referred to as 'Content Theories'. The aim of the content theories is identify and focus on inner Needs that Motivate behaviour. Included here is Abraham Maslow's (1943) Hierarchy of Needs Theory (individuals develop, and they work their way up a hierarchy based on fulfilment of a series of prioritized needs). (Steers et al 2010.)Maslow represented five sets of need in a Pyramid; Physiological needs, safety, Belongingness, Esteem and self actualization. Schrader (1972) applied Maslow's hierarchy theory to construction workers. He wanted to identify the level of needs that should be addressed to improve the motivation of workers and ultimately their productivity. Schrader concluded that the lower level needs (like physiological and safety needs) are no longer a motivating factor for construction workers. This conclusion is based on the fact that the construction workers make good wage to fulfill their physiological needs and through unions they can maintain a relatively smooth level of employment, fulfilling their safety needs (job security). "In order to fulfill higher needs, Schrader suggested invoking employees in discussions about method improvement practices. He believed the keys are using a participative decision process and team building. Schrader also suggests that esteem needs and self-actualization needs of construction workers can be fulfilled through praise, listening, and involvement" (Schrader, 1972); (Halepota 2005).

According to McGregor, the most significant of such rewards (self actualization) can be direct products of effort directed towards organizational objectives.

An extension on this theory by Argyris (1957) classified the needs as 'inner' (basic and vital) and 'outer' (Clues of performance). (Carson 2005). Grant (2009) argued that the products of work motivation and job performance have a relational component as well; that is, what employees do at work has impact and meaning for others who use the products produced or benefit in some way from the employee's efforts. However Clayton Alderfer (ERG Theory) created an extension of Maslow's theory, breaking down the needs into three (3); EXISTENCE, RELATEDNESS AND GROWTH; he argued that lower level needs do not have to be completely satisfied before taking on higher level need. (Stoner and Freeman 1992).

Another content theory 'Motivation Hygiene Theory' developed by Frederick Herzberg (1960). Ignored the Need of Hierarchy concept, He argued that meeting lower needs of individuals would not motivate them; "but" would prevent them from being dissatisfied. He conducted a study of job satisfaction on 200 engineers and accountants. He examined two key factors which are Satisfaction (affected by Motivation factors) and Dissatisfaction (influenced by hygiene factors) which included salary, working conditions and company policies. Herzberg noted that when these motivators, such as sense of achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth are added to employees' jobs, they are more satisfied with their job and more productive.

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However, Vroom (1964) argued that the storytelling critical-incident method, in which the interviewee recounts extremely satisfying and dissatisfying job events, accounts for the associations found by Herzberg et al. states, "If you grant the assumption about the way in which biases operate, it follows that the storytelling methods may have very little bearing on the actual consequence of managerial practice." (Vroom, 1966, p. 10).

Also Phillipchuk and Whittaker (1996) continued research on the motives examined by Herzberg. Using sample of engineers as case Study too; they noticed some inconsistencies between their result and Herzberg's (1982). In their results, there was no advancement in motivators. "Additionally, both advancement and recognition had a higher frequency of dissatisfaction than satisfaction. Finally, neither salary nor job security was identified by respondents as important to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Although the authors conclude their results validate" Herzberg's theory. (John B Miner 2005), Smith and Kendall (1963) didn't agree. They propose that job satisfaction is a function of the perceived characteristic of a job in relation to an individual's frame of reference and that a particular job condition can be a satisfier or dissatisfier.

Furthermore, Friedlander (1966a, p.143) purportedly faulted the theory pointing out that no Herzberg did not provide data to indicate a direct relationship between incidents involving intrinsic job characteristics and incidents containing self-reports of increased job performance. "According to the Protestant ethic, it is conceivable that self-reports of increased job performance may be nothing more than moral justification for increased job enjoyment".(House and Lawrence 2010). Zakeri et al (1997) furthered research on Iranian construction workers, though Herzberg proposed that money is not a satisfier, the survey supports that money is a powerful motivator of construction workers. "whilst adequate working facilities can to some extent reduce the demotivating effects of low levels of pay, delay in payment cannot." (Zakeri et al 1997).It can be deduced from Zakeri etal 1997 that construction workers are motivated On-time payment, incentives and financial rewardsmore by other factors within the industry such as

Socially Acquired Needs Theory is also a content created by David McClelland. He perceives Motivation to be a strong desire to succeed or excel in competitive situations. "He focused mainly on motivational potency of an array of distinct and clearly defined needs including Achievement, power, affiliation and Autonomy". (Steers, mowday and Shapiro 2004). His theory emphasized on three needs variables, and if one of these needs is strong in an individual, it could motivate behaviour that leads to satisfaction. The needs are namely:

Need for Achievement (nAch): An individual tend to be motivated by challenging tasks and competitive work situations with a desire for accomplishment and success.

Need for Affiliation (nAfll): Individuals with this need for affiliation are known to seek warm and friendly relationships. They have a high concern for intimacy and understanding and can be described as friendly. (Sloan 2010) Human Resource management p.25.

Need for Power (nPow): here, Individuals are believed to seek Control or maintain control over others. These individuals often seek leadership positions, hence acquiring leadership skills as being outspoken, hard headed and frequently argumentative. Sloan Human Resource management p.25.


It is observed that. Though needs might be consistent, behaviour isn't, as people may perform well one day and might perform woefully the next; moreover changes have occurred in what Americans want out of jobs and careers and out of their lives in general.

The content theories were base solely on Americans; it does not travel well as people have differing cultures from one country to another.

People's reaction to fulfilment and non fulfilment varies. Take some individuals for example with need for Security, while some who fail to meet up with this need become frustrated and give up, Others put in extra effort. (Steers, Mowday and Shapiro 2004).


These theories focus on conscious human decision processes as an explanation of Motivation; Need is considered as just one element in the process; other elements include individual's abilities, roles, perceptions regarding an individual's ability to perform tasks.

Expectancy Theory

This theory is based on the works of victor Vroom (1964), Porter and Edward Lawler (1968). Vroom believes that individuals choose work which they believe leads to outcomes they value; this theory stresses on an individual's perception regarding his capability to do a particular job and the values he or she places for the job. Vroom believes that Motivation is a multiplication of three constructs: outcome expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. (Ambrose and Kulik, 1999).

Outcome Expectancy: Individuals believe that by putting in extra effort into work will lead to a given level of performance, Take for example an employee who has accomplished a difficult task expects to be praised.

Valence: This refers to the degree to which expected outcomes are attractive or unattractive.

Instrumentality: individuals tend to select a considerable level of performance that seems the best chance of achieving an outcome they value while holding on to the thought that, the level of performance will result in certain outcomes. Further, Porter and Lawler (1968), Suggested that 'increased efforts' lead to 'improved performance.' They established a connection between employees Motivation and Expectancies; because individuals may lack necessary abilities which they require to achieve high level performance; thus individuals without an understanding of how to direct efforts effectively, might do so without corresponding increase in performance. These expectations might come in two forms namely Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. While Intrinsic rewards refers to those rewards experienced directly by an individual, e.g satisfaction and accomplishments, Extrinsic rewards are those provided by external agents to the individual such as bonuses, promotions and praise.

Goal Setting Theory

This theory was developed by Lotham and Locke (1979). This theory states that an individual's level of motivation and performance tends to rise if they accept specific objectives, even with a high level of difficulty and are offered performance feedback. "The employees must participate in process of goal setting in order to obtain their (Human Resource Specialists) approval when setting higher and high targets".Adair,j.2006, p. 325.

"First, specific difficult goals consistently lead to better performance than specific easy goals, general goals such as "do your best", or no goals; Second, goal-setting is most effective when there is feedback showing progress toward the goal ( (Latham & Locke, 1991; Locke, 1996). This theory relates performance to task accomplished and is very easy to apply in complex task field settings; when goals are specific and challenging, they tend to increase the level of performance either as a team or an individual. Variables noted with this theory;

Goal Acceptance-Goal Commitment-: Individuals must initially accept tasks/goals and remain committed to it. "Therefore, individual performance results from an interaction between goal difficulty and goal commitment, with the highest level of individual performance occurring when individuals are highly committed to difficult goals." Ambrose and Kulik 1999 citing, (Tubbs, 1993).

Personal Goal and Self Efficacy- This refers that self goals are more desirable than assigned goals; thus commanding high level of commitment. Self efficacy is subjected to intrinsic motivation, when an individual believes he can and he's willing to do. Goal setting has led to high performance Cycle; This high performance cycle shows how increased goal has led to Improved performance, which leads to rewards, such as recognition and promotion, Thus resulting in high efficacy and satisfaction in view of ability to meet future challenges and setting even higher goals. Locke and Lotham 2002 Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey.

However, this theory has a major constraint, which is that it is only applicable to employees who have gotten to know their subordinates and their individual personalities; for a new manger, this really takes effort and time. In the construction industry, application of the this theory might not seem feasible; The construction team is temporal and come together to achieve a task after which they disintegrate, it could be functional within each particular group say for instance the Architecture firm, but as team where you have the structural engineer, the quantity surveyors and various other professionals, it might seem a bit difficult to apply. "With increasing size and sophistications in construction projects, it is difficult to motivate employees to optimal outputs." (D Hemanta 2007 citing Parham and Zheng, 2006).

Reinforcement Theory developed by B.F.Skinner (1960) lay emphasizes on relationship between 'behaviour' and 'consequences'. Skinner talks about extrinsic rewards; "When a person behaves in a certain way, they are likely more likely to repeat such action" Sloan.

He advised that rewards therefore should be unpredictably given to increase Motivation and excite tasks. More research has been conducted in this theory. Stajkovic and Luthans (1997) carried out further research on this theory by conducting a meta-analysis of OBMod studies published from 1975 to 1995. The analysis indicated that the average person in an OBMod control group would exhibit a 17% improvement in performance after an OBMod intervention. However, the meta-analysis also indicated that improvements were generally larger for interventions introduced in manufacturing settings rather than in service settings. ." (Ambrose and Kulik 1999 Journal of Management 1999 ) P.262.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory; Proposed by Deci E.L and Cascio (1980) states that tangible rewards, deadlines (Amabile, DeJong, & Lepper, 1976), surveillance (Lepper & Greene, 1975), and evaluations (Smith, 1975) tend to diminish feelings of autonomy. (Tittmuss 1990) cited an example saying, that paying for blood undermines cherished social values and would therefore reduce or totally eliminate willingness to donate blood; It is believed that 'Motivation may be negatively affected if a previously non monetary relationship is transformed into an explicitly monetary one'. (Frey 2001 citing Prendergast 1999, p18). Ambrose and Kulik (1999) refer to CET as one of seven traditional theories of motivation in organizations because it was based on laboratory rather than organizational studies.


"Seo et al. 2004 propose that core effect, as reflected in degrees of pleasantness and activation Influences momentary variation in three behavioural outcomes of work motivation: generative defensive orientation1, effort2, and persistence." (Seo et al. 2009). This study lends some support to expectance and control theories and exposed how emotions can influence work motivation. It does so both directly and indirectly, by influencing two cognitive judgements addressed by expectancy theory (expectancy judgement and valence judgement) and one addressed by control theory (progress judgement).".People experiencing more pleasant effect focus more on positive outcomes and have strong expectancy judgement for such outcomes while In contrast, it is believed that people in less pleasant affective state focus more on possible negative outcomes with strong expectancy judgement of negative outcomes ( Seo et al. 2009 citing Johnson and Tversky 1983; Erez and Isen 2002). Hence the application of this idea in the Construction reveals the necessity to create a friendly working environment that can generate pleasant and activated feelings for workers; this can be achieved by designing tasks such that they are inspiring and interesting.

Further, Bandura (1997) Self Efficacy Theory; carried out further research on the Expectancy theory, emphasizing on 'Confidence' as it relates to 'behaviour' and Self Efficacy. "According to self-efficacy theory, individuals with low self-efficacy lack the impetus to engage in sustained effort in the face of challenging circumstances". (Holloway 2005 citing Bandura 1997). Bandura distinguished two types of determinants of behaviour; outcome expectations, construed as beliefs about the likelihood of achieving successful outcomes and personal efficacy expectations, that is, beliefs about possessing the capability of executing certain actions or behaviours. (Shea and Bidjerano 2010).He perceived self efficacy as an individual's confidence in his ability to organise and execute tasks. This theory is applicable in the construction industry, it is challenging and kind of motivational if one is given a task that he has not independently handled, but has been involved in; this will create a drive in willingness to expand efforts in accomplishing the task. (Eccles and Wigfield 2005).

Relevance and Application of Motivation theories in Construction:

According to Doloi (2007), most construction procedures were based on the traditional models, whereas today's process involves incentives (paid leave, bonuses, overtime payments, penalty schemes e.t.c). . 'These factors (incentives) if not understood properly may be detrimental to the success of future projects.' (Doloi 2007 citing Adrian 2001). Though the construction industry hasn't quite embraced this approach of Incentives; It is however very important to note that motivating workers in the construction industry for improved project and organizational productivity is essential. Research shows that motivating workers have greater outputs in projects in the last two decades. (Hanna et al., 2005).Linking "Contemporary motivationtheories explain employee motivation by recognizing individual differences; matching people to jobs; using goals and ensuring that goals are perceived as attainable; rewarding individuals; linking rewards to performance, checking equity in the system; and not and ignoring the incentives driven by money' (Pheng and Leong 2001 citing Moorhead and Griffin, 1995).



This literature demonstrates the importance and application of Motivation. Its Research processes, challenges and achievements. However, many of the considered variables in the theories can be regard as series of overlapping systems with each unit being understudied independently.

Managers/ Construction Managers must balance these variables such that an appropriate theory is applied to its corresponding situation; as a theory that works for one particular situation might not be applicable to another. Hence the theories, if well applied, would lead to increase in Motivation and automatically trigger performance positively.

However, having observed that most of these theories aren't practiced effectively in the construction industry, I would advise that Construction firms should try and build solid human resource teams which will be practical and theoretical.